Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Snow


Oh Canada and your snow.

Old friends and family are all talking about the big snow they got today, and it's leaving me with such bittersweet feelings.

I remember that first snow last year after we were married. We were living in the basement of this home pictured above and the snow kept getting higher and higher to where we almost couldn't see out the window. I thought it was beautiful and so exciting. There were many snows early on in the winter that left postcard perfect scenes before you. Roads, untouched by any cars yet, lined with trees overhanging the road covered by fresh, diamond-like glistening snow. It was captivating, as I'd never experienced anything like it before.

But by April, it was still freezing and snowing, and this southern girl was used to wearing flip flops outside by that time of year! I was so sick of it and couldn't wait to move.

And now, now that everyone is talking about the beautiful snow, I find myself reminiscent of those early winter days last year. That first snow reminds me of innocent, naive days before financial worries and "the real world" set in. Before job losses and endless job searching. I think 2011 can rightfully be titled The Year of the Job Search - it's literally all we've done from the end of January until now. Good gracious I hope better things are in store for 2012, because I can't wait to kick this past year to the curb and forget about most of it!

That all said, I really just wanted to say that today...I really miss that first big snow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Merry Christmas from Josiah





Oh my goodness. Is he not the cutest thing on the planet? Rob's brother Darryl was in town the past few days and he had some fun taking tons of pictures of the little man. Seriously, I have the cutest baby ever.

In other news, I started working at Starbucks last week. Glad to finally have a real job, where I have a schedule, and I work hard with a bunch of super amazing people, and I'll get a predictable paycheck. I also got hired by Gateway Church to work in their cafe part time too! Aaaaand I'm pursuing a waitressing job for the evenings. Nuts huh? Well, gotta do what ya gotta do to survive. The only thing keeping me sane is knowing this won't last forever. If the grand ol' US of A will get it together and give Rob his Visa, I won't have to work so dang much and never see my family. Oh I could easily rant all of my frustrations!

Lets all just go back up and look at those happy and perfect baby pictures :-)




Monday, December 12, 2011

Liebster Award!

So, I am pretty stinkin stoked about this.

It's The Liebster Award. It's awarded to blogs with under 200 followers. And I have to give a huuuuuge thanks and special mention to Eliza over at Baby Bound for nominating me! I am seriously so thrilled, and shocked really!


So here are the rules:

Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you

Reveal your top 5 blog picks for this award and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog

Copy and paste the award on your blog

Have faith that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers


And so the five special people I would like to nominate are...drum roll please............

Whenever I see a new blog from one of these women, I get really excited. They each have something very unique, captivating, fun, and inspiring to tell.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

East Texas...and some Honesty

While out in east Texas yesterday Brittney and I had a great visit and lots of fun putting our babies together. Here they are 19 weeks (Joseph) and 7 weeks (Josiah). The picture below this, Josiah was only 2 weeks old. Look how much he's grown!! Then they both fell asleep at the same time, so we laid them in the crib together. Best buds already ;-)



This has been such a good week. Started out Monday I had a coffee date with Emmie. Praise God for such incredible friendships. Friendships of love, of honesty, of encouragement, of strength. So grateful. I am so glad I can be honest with her. After I left I prayed in my car on the drive home, and just allowed myself to be totally honest with God.

You know, it's silly that we think we can hide our emotions from God, but we do it. I've thought, maybe if I don't tell God how I really feel, it will all just go away. Uhh, hello! And so I just said it. I told God how I really felt about our situation, free of thinking I had to try and stay positive about anything. And you know what? God can take it. He can handle our hurt. In fact He wants it. He doesn't want us carrying these unbearably heavy burdens around on our shoulders. But until we stop pretending like everything will be okay, we're going to continue carrying them.

Through this, God was able to really speak to me, and show me a major source of my hurt and frustration. And I've experienced so much freedom since Monday! I told God I simply wanted Him to change my heart, nothing more...but out of His profound love and grace, He's done so much more.

I am feeling so blessed, so refreshed, and so encouraged.

Oh, and so ridiculously in love with my little boy.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Questionairre

I saw this on the lovely blog Matt and Kara Adopt and decided I wanted to do it as well.

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Hot chocolate alllll the way. Never liked that egg nog stuff.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Growing up, the ones from Santa were always unwrapped, and ones from mom and dad were wrapped. and because santa left them unwrapped I'd always sneak in the living room super early and check everything out, then put it back in its place so my parents wouldn't know I got up early and peeked :-)

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? In my parents house, the lights have always been colored. But now I prefer the white lights.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but when I have a house to decorate, I think it sounds like a great idea!
5. When do you put your decorations up? Always the day after Thanksgiving
6. What is your favorite holiday dish? Sweet potato casserole
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? My mom would always make a big pot of apple cider, usually on Christmas eve, and she added this spice sack to it that made it soooo delicious. I always looked forward to that.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? Can't remember how old I was, but I actually found out at Easter, because I discovered all the gifts the easter bunny normally left. so when mom confessed the easter bunny never left them, I asked if that meant santa never left the gifts either. two stones in one day. i was devastated.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? Nope! Always Christmas day.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? As a kid it was always really random, with lots of fun little ornaments. Now that the kids are out of the house, the decor is much more refined. Rob and I have not had a chance to decorate a tree yet. Last year our place was too small, this year we have no money. Maybe third time is a charm?
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? Mixed relationship! Growing up in the south, it was always really exciting if it snowed, because it was rare. And it would last long enough to bring joy, then it would melt and we'd get on with life. Perfect. Then I lived in Canada last year, and there was snow on the ground for like 5 straight months. Yuck! I like it again now though, since I'm back in the south. Haha
12. Can you ice skate? Hahaha yeah right
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a kid, not really. But two years ago Rob got me this beautiful white gold and diamond necklace, and we were still only dating at the time. I was blown away by such a beautiful gift!
14. What’s the most important thing about the holidays for you? Remembering the real reason for the season. I know that's cliche, but it's easy to forget why the holiday even exists in the first place.
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? Two of them! My mom makes these little peanut butter cup cookies, and puts a reeses peanut butter cup in the middle when it's almost done baking. Yum! And chocolate chip no bake cookies. Oh, I guess there's a third one...cherry fluff. Yeah, can't choose just one.
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Rob and I don't really have any yet, but I was thinking about it earlier today, and I definitely want to start traditions especially now that we have a son in the picture.
17. What tops your tree? At my parents it was always an angel. I think they still have the same angel we've topped the tree with all my life!
18. Which do you prefer: giving or receiving? Um, who doesn't like receiving?! But I do very much enjoy watching someone open a gift that I've given them and seeing their reaction :-)

19. Candy canes: yuck or yum? Regular ol' candy canes...not a fan. But they have some pretty cool flavored ones out there now that aren't so bad.
20. Favorite Christmas movie? Uhhh...Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. Haha
21. Saddest Christmas song? Grandma got run over by a reindeer! I've always thought, really?! That's so sad.
22. What is your favorite Christmas song? The First Noel, probably because I just like to sing it and it sounds really good. Ha. Or there's one by Joy Williams called Here With Us. Profound lyrics!

That was suuuuper fun. Now it's your turn :-)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sweet Noises & Smiles

I had read a few times that once the little one arrives, I will have something to post about every day, because so much happens.


So true. But do I do it? Nope! And I apologize, but lemme explain.

Josiah has started making lots of adorable little noises. And he smiles...allll the time. He is the happiest most content little baby, ever. So I'm spending my days just gazing at his sweet face, making faces back at him, smiling with him. Even when I'm changing his diaper he's smiling up at me. This kid is HAPPY.

And in between all this gazing at my beautiful boy, I'm job searching.

And searching.
And sending out resumes.
And filling out questionnaires.
And calling employers.
And getting denied. Every. Single. Application.

And that is why I'm rarely in blog world anymore. I realized I'm definitely not being lazy, on the contrary I just don't have all the time I used to have. But I love blogging, I love writing, I love posting pictures, so I'm continually making an effort :-)

Life is full of emotion right now, that's for sure. Half the time I am just delighted and in happy little momma land over here, then the other half I'm feeling completely insignificant, drained, and tired of being denied jobs. I'm just trying to have faith that the reason I continually am being denied is because God has something unbelievably perfect in the works, and it's just not ready for me yet. I started searching on Craigslist for jobs yesterday and suddenly have 3 interviews lined up, plus an interview at Starbucks. Something's gotta give already!

Anyways, enough of that.

I've started running again. Started over two weeks ago, just trying to be consistent and build up endurance. Today I added a half mile to my run, and it felt great! Ready to start working my way up, and it's my goal to do the Oklahoma City Half Marathon on April 29, 2012. Mark my words, it will be done.

Tonight, I'm simply relaxing. Not going to worry about money, about the post pregnancy body, about a job. Just a glass of wine, sleeping baby, and a wonderful, supportive, dashing husband. With glasses raised, here's a toast to peace, favor, grace, and love abounding.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The First of the Month

I have a not so loving relationship with the first of the month anymore. It always means rent is due, which is a bit stressful these days. I've still not found work, which means still no income source. Sooooo for the first time ever we really didn't know how rent was going to get paid. But, I had peace about it. I just kept saying to myself that I am a child of God, He loves and cares deeply for His children, He will take care of us.

Friends, today is December 1st, and the rent WILL be paid. God provided. This is real life living in faith!

Next step? Faith that God will provide a job :-)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankfulness and Anxiousness

It's a season of thankfulness. Everyone is posting lately about what they are thankful for. It's definitely a reminder to see the good in every situation.

I am so, so, so thankful to have the opportunity to stay home with Josiah as long as I have. And I am so thankful Rob's had that opportunity as well! How many dads get to stay home and be a part of their child's life like this?

In the midst of my thankfulness, however, my heart is starting to become anxious. Finding a job is still proving impossible, and well, the money is about to run dry. I keep telling myself that God knows all this, He isn't going to leave us on the street. And I also feel like God is saying to continue to enjoy this precious time I have being at home, because I know I will never get it back.

One day, I have hope, this whole immigration thing will be done with and Rob will be able to work. In the meantime, friends, if you'll join with me in prayer for my little family. Rejoice with us that we have this time together, and pray with us that God would provide a job for me to take care of the family.

Happy thanksgiving everyone!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hi, My Name Is...

Stephanie. And I'm a horrible blogger.

There, I confessed it.

You know, life is so...predictable, these days. I feel like there isn't really anything interesting to say, yet I'm feeling more fulfilled and happy than I think I've almost ever felt. Like someone who is living out their calling. Feedings every 3 hours, almost on the dot. Way to go predictable baby. He'll swing, I'll shower. He'll keep swinging, I'll drink coffee and check out stuff online. I'll put him down for a nap, he'll scream in protest, but then he'll nap. 2 hours or so later, aaaaaand repeat, slightly modified events of course :-) Even nights are becoming more predictable. He is waking up around 3 or 3:30, Rob covers that first feeding (yay pumps! makes life so much nicer for a nursing momma). Then he'll wake up usually around 6:30 or 7, I'll get up with him and we'll just have a boatload of fun in the morning while Rob sleeps in.

This whole neither or us working thing is lame most of the time (hey if you wanna pray for us, I really need a job that's gonna pay enough to support the fam), but right now, we are thanking God that we are still on our feet, not in debt, and both able to be home with Josiah. I can't think of a bigger blessing, honestly!

Becoming a mom is definitely the best thing ever. Having your own child is definitely a whole lot different! And now, I'd really like for some of our friends to jump on the baby bandwagon. It would just make all of this that much sweeter.

There, I did it, I blogged. Thanks for reading about my oh so predictable and only exciting to me life :-)
Hey, I'm a mom, I'm entitled to take these kinds of pics for embarrassing moments later in life, right? :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

One Year Anniversary!

Today is me and Rob's one year wedding anniversary! I can't believe it! Never would I have imagined where we'd be in our lives now this time a year ago. Having a baby and living back in Texas were definitely NOT on the agenda. Ha. I wish we were able to do more to celebrate, but I'm thankful we'll at least be able to go out for a few hours tonight while my best friend Emmie watches Josiah. My maid of honor still taking care of her girl :-)




I love you babe! I couldn't be happier to have married you. You are the most patient and loving man I know, I don't know where I'd be without you. I'm so glad to be on this journey with you, through the many trials and joys we face. I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you for loving me so selflessly. Here's to many more beautiful years ahead!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Rebellious Casserole

So, having a baby makes posting blogs a little more difficult. There always seems to be so much to do in my limited free time while he's napping. Alas, Daddy has Josiah sparing me some extra free moments.

My husband knows better than anyone that I hate to follow a recipe. I prefer to take an idea and make it my own. [i think i'm generally that way in most areas of my life. always a bit, well not rebellious, but paving my own path]

All that to say, I couldn't find a recipe for a chicken and rice casserole anywhere online that sounded quite like what I wanted. So I've gathered many recipes and taken little bits from each to create my own thing. Here it is below - it's currently cooking. I'll let ya'll know how it turns out!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup of cooked rice
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
1 can green beans
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup diced mushrooms
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 1/2 cups water
Can of French's Fried Onions

Mix everything except dry onion soup mix and fried onions. Sprinkle soup mix on top of mixture and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Top with fried onions, let bake another 5-10 minutes or until onions are brown and crispy.

I'm excited for this one!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Good Baby, Bad Night

After just two weeks, I've realized a few things about sleep. First, 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep is not going to happen for a very long time, but that's okay, I've learned it's not really necessary. Getting 8 hours of sleep, however, is necessary. Josiah has been really good so far about being on a consistent 3 hour schedule. Pretty much on the dot he could wake up at 3 pm for a feeding, have about 20 minutes or so of being awake after that, then go back down for a nap, and wake up at 6 pm for another feeding. This predictability has been allowing me to get rest and I haven't felt very tired at all.

Predictability was shot out the window last night. Insert cranky, crying, growing, I'm-so-hungry-I-need-milk-from-two-moms, baby. There was no sleep involved in this equation. Thankfully Grandma and Opa are in town from Canada and I was able to get some rest this morning. And now, cranky, crying, growing, hungry baby has worn himself out and has been sleeping for a while now. Thank. Goodness. I'm feeling a bit like I'm going through ESOAL at the Honor Academy again. It's a good thing he's so darn cute.

He was cheering for the Rangers, and the look on his face here describes his disappointment.

Fell asleep in the boppy pillow. Too. Cute.

Two weeks old here. He is the perfect length of one of our bedroom accent pillows.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Josiah's Birth Story

Warning:this is a wee bit long, but I had to capture every moment, emotion, funny story, etc from the day I went into labor.

It's only been just over a week since Josiah was born, so I figured I'd get this written while it's still fresh in my mind.

For a couple of weeks I'd been dilated to a 3 already and my doctor kept saying "any day now he's gonna come!" After two weeks of that any day now crud, I was getting quite impatient, and growing (literally) quite tired of being pregnant. I finally just resolved myself to the fact that I would be pregnant forever, which made the waiting, well, somewhat bearable. I'd also been wondering, what is labor going to feel like? Will I know if I'm in labor? I'd experienced some Braxton Hicks, but they were never bad, hardly even noticeable, so I wondered what the real thing would feel like.

Monday, Oct. 17th
4 am
Woke up at my regular 2 hour increment to use the bathroom. When I laid back down, I felt this strange sensation in my lower back that spread to my stomach that I hadn't felt before. It didn't last long, but then about 10 minutes later there it was again. I tried not to get my hopes up and make myself go back to sleep, but the pains kept coming every 10-15 minutes and were noticeably stronger. Finally around 5:30 I went to the living room and started timing them. They were coming less than 10 minutes apart, up until about 8:00 am, then they just stopped. I was frustrated to say the least. But then about an hour later, I felt it again. And for the next several hours, they would come every 30 minutes, then every 10 minutes, then back to every 20 minutes. It was completely inconsistent and I began to think nothing of it, that maybe it was just Braxton Hicks.

Around lunchtime I called my cell phone provider because I'd been having issues using the network on my iPhone. Whatever they had me do caused my service to completely shut off! So I started panicking! What if this is real labor and it picks up, I have no way to call the doctor, call family and friends...the issue must be fixed! So I prayed that my labor wouldn't pick up, and Rob and I headed off to the AT&T store to get it fixed. The iPhone 4 just came out a few days prior, so the store was still reeling in business, and we had a 20 minute wait. Whatdya know my labor would pick up while I'm sitting in this very public place?! So I suffered through some increasingly painful contractions with my happiest face plastered on, finally got the phone fixed, came back home...and it stopped again. Back to 30 minutes, then 10, then 20.

At 4:30 I decided to call my doctor, just to let her know what was going on. When I told her I'd been feeling them since 4 am she nearly had a fit and told me to come to the office before they closed at 5. Oops?! After the urgency of getting there before they closed at 5, we waited until almost 6 before I was seen. I was then told that I was 5 cm dilated and it was time to go to the hospital! Hearing those words, that it was time, kind of left me in a state of shock. As much as I had wanted the time to come already, I don't think I was prepared to hear it from my doctor. It made it official, that a baby would be here soon, and all of my wondering and questions and fears were about to have to be faced.

After briefly calling parents and a few friends, we checked into the hospital and by 6:30 I was hooked up to IV's, blood pressure monitors, fetal monitors, and who knows what other kinds of monitors. It didn't feel quite real, especially since my labor still wasn't that strong, and I had a hard time believing we were there to have a baby!

Here is where the timeline of things all mesh together.

Pretty quickly I noticed the contractions getting stronger and very close together, and I remember the nurses reminding me to breathe instead of holding my breath. Uh, holding our breath is what we all do when we're in severe pain right?! Okay, I guess not. Anyways, so here I am thinking this is so painful and everything, but then I'm informed they aren't nearly strong enough and they aren't doing anything. Well crap, that sucks. So what do they do? Oh, I guess I signed a statement while I was in pain giving them permission to administer various drugs, like pitocin. Which is exactly what they did. Mind you, I was already at 7 cm by this point.

Anyone who has ever had a natural childbirth and is then given pitocin knows exactly the hell that I was about to face.

It wasn't long and I was having unbearably strong contractions that were lasting for almost a minute, and they were barely a minute apart. It was constant, no break, no time to catch my breath and face the next one. I've never felt such pain before. So they tried administering an analgesic through my IV which is used to dull the pain and is safe for the baby, but it did nothing except make the room spin wildly around me. Then the nurses realized the pitocin was too much, it was slowing the baby's heart rate, and cut the pitocin drip. But the damage was already done, the [devil] was in my system, and the contractions would not let up. Baby's heart rate was still low, and something needed to be done to bring it back up.

I had to make a decision to do something that in my mind didn't even exist, was not an option, and I viewed as "ringing the bell" like in ESOAL at Teen Mania. But if I didn't choose to take an epidural, I might be putting the baby at risk. For the sake of Josiah's health, I took the epidural. At first I felt so defeated, I felt like I failed, and I had to let go of the pride in my heart that I had to prove to people I was somehow strong enough.

I think it was less than 10 minutes when the pain relief kicked in. I remember looking out the window and noticing it was storming, lots of rain and lightening outside. I commented on it and everyone laughed and asked where I'd been the past hour! Apparently it had been storming for quite a while, but I had been in so much pain that I had no idea!

Golly let me tell you, by this point I had no regrets whatsoever in getting the epidural! I was so relaxed and happy, and felt like I was just peacefully floating along waiting for Josiah to come. I was able to talk with Rob, and my best friend Emmie was there as well. We were able to joke around, take ridiculous pictures (which I made them swear would never be viewed by anyone on the face of the planet), and rest. By 11:45 pm I was dilated to a 10 and was ready to start pushing.

No one tells you how hard this part of labor is. During pregnancy I feel like I heard all about contractions this, contractions that, but barely a word about the pushing stage. [deep breath in, okay hold it and push with all your might! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, (counting gets slower and slower) 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Okay now quick, deep breath in, and again! ...deep breath in and one more time!]

I did that for almost 2 hours. Two exhausting hours.

Then all of a sudden, I knew the end was near. The nurses called for the doctor, then a team of like 30 people piled in to the room. Within minutes I pushed one final time and then I heard it - that first piercing cry, that beautiful sound that said welcome to motherhood! I began weeping, and just watched in awe as [my little boy] screamed and screamed while the nurses cleaned him up and weighed and measured him. After what felt like ages he was finally handed to me and snuggled next to my own skin. My heart melted and transformed and I felt emotions I'd never felt before. I immediately felt this fierce, intense, and unexplainable love for him. All of the fears of motherhood and having a baby were suddenly wiped away and replaced with a miracle that only God could do.

The past week has surprised me in many ways. The dirty diapers I dreaded changing? I find it to be a fun part of the routine. The losing sleep at night? Yeah, it's hard, but I'm mesmerized every time I get to look at my son's sweet face when I feed him. Already he's enriched our lives. Josiah has made what was already a good thing just that much better! I am so, so, so thankful to God. He answered all of our prayers about a healthy pregnancy, quick labor, easy recovery, and a peaceful baby. I am one very content and blissfully happy mama.

Monday, October 24, 2011

A Heart so Full


My heart.
Is so full.
Of love.
Of previously unknown emotions.

I look at my son. [my son]. Oh those words! I am a mama. Something that was not a dream of mine. I didn't want children for a very long time. But God had other plans.

To tell you all the dead truth, I've not been completely honest on this blog the past 9 months. I've put my most optimistic face forward, tried so hard to convey a complete trust in God's plans in this. But at the core, I've been afraid. I've been angry. I've questioned God, told Him it was a mistake...asked Him to take it all away.

And now, now when I look at my son [this beautiful, precious, and perfect little boy], I almost weep at the thought that I didn't want a baby.

This morning I was reading a blog of a couple in the middle of an adoption. They were planning to adopt for a woman who was pregnant and didn't want her baby. On October 6th, this woman gave birth, then decided to keep the baby. This couple, who has been unable to conceive, and who for 9 months believed they were finally going to have a baby, lost him. They essentially miscarried. And my heart broke. I just wept at my computer this morning.

I began thinking of all the couples who have been trying so hard for a baby, and they would love to be in my position of being spit up on, peed on, losing sleep. They dream of those days. Who am I that God would choose me to have a baby, that in my selfishness and pride would give me such a beautiful gift? I cannot understand or fathom why God does what He does.

I am a changed woman today from who I was a mere week ago. I was just checking into the hospital at this time last week, clueless to the blessing that was waiting for me. Thank you God for knowing better than I do, for your extravagant love and grace, and for the sweet and perfect blessing of Josiah.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Baby Josiah

I know I'm supposed to sleep when the baby sleeps, but this morning I feel so refreshed and excited, and I absolutely must share about the past few days!

Josiah Robert Griffioen finally came into the world Tuesday at 1:26 am after just 7 hours of labor, a perfectly healthy and beautiful 6 lbs 15 oz, 20.5 inches long. Yeah, he's a long, skinny little man, with sweet chubby little cheeks and a dimply chin <3

That moment, of seeing him for the first time, is a moment that you can never fully describe or convey unless you've experienced it. I've wondered for 9 months what it would be like to see him - would I love him instantly, what would he look like, am I really going to be a good mom, am I capable of doing this, what is God thinking?! And in that instant, all of those fears and questions seemed to disappear, and I've quickly realized that I truly was made for this.

As I was feeding him at one point last night, I was just gazing at his peaceful little face, and God's words that each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made came to mind. It blows me away when I look at Josiah knowing that the very hands of God purposely and carefully knit him together inside of me! Looking back over these 9 months, especially in the beginning when we had just found out about being pregnant, I can't believe I ever questioned what God was doing.

I could go on and on about how amazed I am, but I'll spare you all my ramblings. I just feel so overwhelmed and blessed at God's grace and goodness. I'm so excited for the journey that's begun :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Regret

A word I live with...a lot. There are a lot of things recently that I've felt regret about. A big one has been moving to Texas when we did. I've looked back on our decision and the timing so many times and my heart just wonders if it was the right thing. It placed us in the difficult position of me being the provider because Rob can't work here yet, which has caused a lot of stress on my end.

A more recent decision I've felt regret over is going on maternity leave when I did. I listened to my doctor who was so surprised by my progress and was saying "any day now, any day now!" Now here we are, two weeks into this "any day now" bologna. It could have been another paycheck in the bank.

But the book I mentioned yesterday addresses this issue. Joyce Meyer explains that regret is how the devil loves to work. Satan waits until a decision has been made, until it's too late to change anything, when you can no longer do anything about it. Then he tries to bring on regret and condemnation.

I believe the Holy Spirit guides me in my decision. He speaks to me and gives warning signals if I shouldn't do something. Now of course I'm not perfect, I make mistakes, I don't hear correctly sometimes, but even if that's the case, God is not the one filling me with regret! Quite contrary, God loves to show His kindness, which leads to repentance, when we've made mistakes.

Satan wants to steal our peace and joy. What better way to do that than do fill us with regret and waste our time over that which cannot be changed?!

I will not be burdened by regret. I trust that God has led us in each of our decisions. And if we have made mistakes, His love, grace and mercy for us is not based on our performance or if we do the right thing or not! Grace is unmerited, and it is who God is! He will always be there to take care of us.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Enjoying Life

Enjoying where you are, on the way to where you are going...

That's the title of a book I just started reading by Joyce Meyer. A little gem of a thing I found in the dirt of life's mess right now.

I think we can all relate in some way or another. We're often looking ahead to what's next...it will be better when I get that promotion, when I'm able to move to this place, when I finally get married, when the babies are out of diapers, etc, etc...

When I was a house director at Teen Mania, my biggest message to the girls under my leadership was to make the most of whatever situation you are in. That was easy for me to preach back then. I was in one of the best seasons of my life, and even though Rob and I were long distance, I held on to the fact that I knew we'd be together for the rest of our lives and I only had that short window of time at Teen Mania left.

But since leaving Teen Mania, enjoying life in the season that I'm in has been the most difficult thing to do! When I was working with Rob's foster sister, I always said life would be better when I got a different job. When it was bitter cold and snowing every other day, I said life would be better once it was warmer again (hmm, well it kinda was better...haha). Then I said life would be better once we were back in Texas. Now I say life will be better when we are done with immigration, when Rob can get a job, when I'm done being pregnant, when we have a better place to live. It's never ending!

I'm only on chapter 3 of this book, so I can see more blog posts in the future on this topic. Right now I'm learning to wake up to the fact that there isn't one final destination on this journey that's the jackpot to happiness. I desire to enjoy the journey, and to once again make the most of each season of life. I'm hoping and praying that this little book will spark a change in my heart and my attitude toward the season we are in.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Blessed Life

Our pastor at Gateway, Robert Morris, has been doing a series based on his book, The Blessed Life, and it's all about financial stewardship and giving as God designed. For many of us, it's a refresher course (Rob and I read the book while we were dating and it transformed our thinking and attitude towards giving), but refresher courses are often a very GOOD thing.

We've felt recently that we have little to give because we ourselves have been so in need, but we're being shown through these messages that it's not just about money, it's about time, it's about attitude, it's about love. It's not about giving out of abundance (think about the widow in the new testament who gave her only two mites). But God says in Malachi chapter 3 that when we give in our tithes and offerings, that He will open for us the windows of heaven and pour out such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it all.

That said, I say the following not to brag on myself by any means, but to show that God's word is true! On Monday it was on our hearts to put together a gift bag for someone who is having a baby. We knew it wouldn't be much, but we just wanted to bless this person in some small way. Then last night after our church small group, we found out that all the couple from our group had gotten together to bless us! They had put together a large gift basket full of items, all of which were things we had gotten this other person on Monday. It was as if God did exactly what He said in Malachi and poured out such abundant blessing back to us. And not only that, they all pitched in and got us a rocker/glider for the baby's room! I feel so overwhelmed with blessing and God's goodness!

Friends, I know many of you are like us right now, and times are hard financially, even spiritually. But I encourage you to get this book, or listen to the sermons from it online (go to www.gatewaypeople.com and it's on the homepage). There is blessing promised in God's word when we tithe, and there is also a curse when we don't. Don't let fear or insecurity stop you from giving. I promise, God will bless you and provide your every need!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Calm Before the Storm

Thank you Kailene over at Jubilee for inspiring a list themed blog today :-)

1. According to my doctor, baby Josiah could literally arrive any time now. Basically, it's a sit and wait game right now. She said she wouldn't be surprised if he came this week. Buuuut I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I'm feeling the calm before the storm right now.

2. I'm extremely excited for Josiah to arrive. And I don't think I can quite convey the miracle of that statement. 9 months ago I was terrified, I was upset, I thought God made a mistake. For many of these months I've asked God what the heck He was thinking. But now, just the thought of holding Josiah in my arms, and kissing his sweet cheeks, and holding his little hand, is almost too much for me. To hold him, and know that the very hands of God knit him together inside of me, completely overwhelms my heart.

3. I can't wait to not be pregnant. AKA I can't wait to go running again. And uh, drink a margarita...

4. I just had coffee. Which means Josiah just had coffee. Which might explain the jelly bean like effect happening in my belly right now.

5. This is what Boss looked like the day we got him. He was so tiny and innocent looking. And friends, this is my firstborn. He will not be forgotten when Josiah comes. Mark my words. That's all for now :-)

Monday, October 3, 2011

One Batch of Thoughts

It's Monday morning, and for the first time in a VERY, I mean very long time, it doesn't arrive with dread.

I don't have to work today. I don't have to do anything today.

Officially, I'm on maternity leave. Yeah I know, I just got the new job, but Josiah could literally arrive any time now, and I don't want to risk going into labor at work! Plus, 8 hours on my feet the past 2 weeks...I'm sore and tired! Time to rest up and prepare for this baby.

Rob and I are taking the utmost advantage of our time together. Going out as much as possible, going on walks, going to the gym, going out with other couples from our small group. I don't know what more we could do to enjoy "us" time, but simply be thankful for the sweet, quiet times of just me and my love. I'm feeling more ready for Josiah to come. I'm feeling VERY ready to not be pregnant anymore.

This morning I woke up thinking about the Honor Academy. I realized that all the interns had already been up for a few hours, run a few miles, and were all scurrying to finish getting ready in the over-crowded bathroom. My heart really misses those days. Who knew four years ago what a lifelong impact that time at the HA would have on my life? I wouldn't trade it for anything, that's for sure.

Here's to change, and continually trusting that God's plans are always the best.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It Seemed Good...

Acts 15:34 - "However, it seemed good to Silas to remain there."

This is a verse I have journaled about in previous years, and it's a lesson that's always stuck with me.

'Seemed' is a very particular word. It gives the notion of uncertainty; like, it could be a good idea or the right thing, but you haven't been given a definite answer. The word implies faith and taking a risk, praying and trusting God to be with you and honor a prayerful decision.

Rob and I prayed. We really sought God. We very much desired to be in His will and be where He wanted us. We weren't 100% positive, but it seemed as if Texas was the way to go. Things were lining up, a job came about, a place to live, a way to get here, we were able to pay for immigration. We knew we had prayed and sought God, so we stepped out in faith.

Silas also stepped out in faith. And because of his faith we see a deep and impactful friendship between him and Paul. And that relationship greatly impacted work for the Gospel.

We don't know much about the time in between the decision, and seeing the fruits of that decision, but I imagine there must have been difficulties. There must have been times that Silas questioned his decision, wondered if it was too rash or quick, and if God would really be with him and bless him.

There are definitely times I feel that way. Things in Texas have been so hard. I've wondered many times if we really prayed and sought God, or if our decision to move here was rash and quick. It's easy to question our decisions when we aren't seeing the fruit we hoped to see.

But I have to step back and remember - we fasted together, we prayed, we DID seek God's will We saw how things were pointing to Texas and we took a step of faith.

Yeah, things are pretty tough right now, but I believe God is with us. He is for us and not against us, and He WILL honor a prayerful decision where we trusted in Him.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stay at Home Mom

Today I was reading through my journals from my intern and GI years at the Honor Academy, hoping for refreshment and a reminder of God's goodness.

You know, life was so simple back then. But back then there were days when it felt like the whole world was crashing down. Haha goodness. Really, there wasn't a whole lot of care in the world. Sure, I read about my struggles of "what am I supposed to do with my life?" "what is God's calling?" "should I be a house director/do ministry team or be a management associate/etc?"

Maybe one day I'll look back on these days now and laugh about how I thought the world was gonna come crashing down. But at the same time, I kind of hope not. I don't want financial obstacles like this, ever, in the future.

Anyways, I also read a lot about God's provision during those times. My intern year started right after my parent's car accident that left them both in wheelchairs and unable to work. I remember praying that God would supernaturally provide for my parents until they were able to work again. And in October of that year, my mom got word that the people in her company had decided to donate their leave time all to my mom so she'd be covered until she was able to come to work again at the end of January. Talk about HUGE provision.

If God could provide a miracle then, He can provide a miracle now too. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. God can provide a way for me to stay home with Josiah for 2 months.

That's really all I wanted to say. I'm standing in faith for big things. Will you stand in faith with me?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

New Job, New Beginnings

Last week...

Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I knew the administrative job I'd held since March was about to crash through the roof.

Expect the unexpected, right?

This job is the reason we packed up and moved to Texas, it was the hope we held that everything would work out despite Rob not being able to work yet. It was a life change. And it's also the source of the insane spiritual journey I've been on since moving here. If you are close to me, you know the details.

All summer I've been trying to find another job, but as soon as the word "pregnant" hit the floor, not another thought was given to me. So you could understand my initial panic of the idea of having no other option but to get another job at 35 weeks pregnant, when I'll be leaving whoever hires me in just a few weeks. I thought, gee, life couldn't get any more impossible.

Then some people prayed. We prayed. And just 5 days later I was offered a job working the front desk at a hotel nearby.

I had this suspicion that it wouldn't be until God released me from this other job, that a new job would come up. I'm quite blown away, actually. I couldn't be more thankful that someone graciously gave me this opportunity knowing full well I'd be leaving again soon. This is God. And God is faithful, folks.

At the same time, please continue to pray for us. The thought of me having to return to work nearly right away after Josiah is born is absolutely killing me. I want nothing more than to be a stay at home momma. I still have hope that there is someone out there who would be willing to take Rob on and pay under the table, but if that's not the case, then pray that God would give me peace and strength to be able to do what needs to be done.

"For this slight and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
-2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Monday, September 12, 2011

My Everything

Wow this song is like it was written just for me! It's by Matt Maher, called Jesus My Everything
Click HERE to listen to it!

I've been looking for a reason…
I've been longing for a purpose…
I'm losing all my meaning…
I've run out of excuses.

Lord, it's hard to know You.
I don't always see your plan
But holiness is calling me
so take me as I am.

Chorus:
You are my everything,
you are the song I sing;
I'll do anything for you
Teach me how to pray,
to live a life of grace;
I'll go anywhere with you
Jesus, be my everything.

Lord, I get so tired of the struggle within
I settle in complacency and I'm weighed down in my sin

So lead me past emotion,
'cause they changed with the wind
I want to be a true disciple
to daily choose Your hand.

I long for fulfillment in what I'm doing in life, and I don't think that's wrong by any means at all. But I'm seeing more and more how God is using this season to draw me near to Himself. In the past I've easily found fulfillment in my job and in the roles I was apart of at Teen Mania, and it simply is not the case right now. How long will I resist His leading into the sweetness of His presence?

Like I said on Friday, no matter how small what I'm doing seems right now, it has meaning when I'm doing it for the glory of God. Every little thing matters to Him. I must keep that in perspective, and in the meantime allow God to be my fulfillment, joy, strength, peace - my everything.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dallas Farmers Market and Transit

Yesterday Rob and I NEEEEDED to get out of the apartment. We're here like 24/7 since I work from home. Plus, we want to take full advantage of the time we have left of it being just us. So Rob came up with the idea of going to the Dallas Farmer's Market downtown, and using the train system to get there. Brilliant, brilliant idea! Stress free ride to Dallas, and the cost we paid for the train we would have paid in parking downtown anyways. It was such a great time!

standing in front of the train...yeah it was a little windy. can you tell? ;-)

We rode through what seemed like different time zones of Dallas. It was poor and dilapidated on the north side, men and women wearing filthy and tattered clothes, then filled with high rise luxury apartments and people in business suits the further south you went. As we were walking we came across several homeless people. Men who looked lost and without hope, sitting on benches with a bag of belongings and the clothes on their back. Maybe life isn't so bad for us right now. Really puts it into perspective.

A woman walking past us on the street commented that I looked beautiful pregnant. And you can ask Rob, my face just lit up and I couldn't quit smiling. Seriously, if you come across a pregnant woman, take a second to tell her she looks beautiful! Such a simple gesture, but she probably needs to hear it!
Above we're standing in front of part of the market. I felt like we were in Mexico, going to get our food for the week. All the people were cutting up pieces of their fruit to have you try it and convince you theirs tasted the best. Needless to say, I got my fair share of peaches and mangoes handed to me. YUM!

Can't wait to take another train trip into Dallas :-)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Do Everything

Some aspects of life right now make me wonder if what I'm doing even matters. Some things feel so insignificant, and I just want what I'm doing to have purpose and meaning. What a perfect song! Thank you Steven Curtis Chapman for writing this. Every little thing matters. No matter how insignificant it seems to me, it's meant to bring glory to God. Check out the song HERE!

PS - I'm absolutely loving that the air conditioner has been off since Sunday. Every window in the apartment and the patio door has been open bringing in such a refreshing breeze. This is my favorite kind of weather! I think it's only like 87 outside right now. Makes me wanna sit outside in a hammock with a good book all day long :-)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Nursery Project

I've been wanting to do some kind of cute thing for Josiah's name to decorate the nursery for a while. Yesterday, the inspiration finally came :-)

This is a wooden plaque that I painted with a mixture of gold, brown, and shimmery champagne to create a real pretty natural finish.

I painted the letters green and blue

Then added some fun little yellow dots and stripes

:-)

The final product! After the paint was dry, I used a super shiny glossy finish on all of it. Then after that dried I krazy glued the letters to the plaque. Quite happy how it turned out :-)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Immediate Test of Faith

On Monday God was challenging me with the verse Psalm 103:2, to Bless the Lord and forget not all His benefits.

On Tuesday, God allowed my faith to be tested.

Now, I really try to be careful and censored about certain things I say on here. I don't want to bring offense of any kind, but in order to share what God is doing, some things just kind of have to be said.

Last week we received a check into our bank account. We immediately used it to pay bills. Then two days later we got a notice that the check had bounced due to insufficient funds on the part of the sender, leaving us overdrawn. Not. Good. I was quite upset. So this person sent another check for the same amount. We bought groceries and gas over the weekend, bought a few more groceries Monday, then on Tuesday, another notification that this check had bounced as well. Thankfully, this person sent some cash instead, and my parents came to the rescue as well, but it's still put quite the strain on us, obviously, and has caused some long term bumps in our bank account even though it was not our fault in any way.

I was almost in hysterics yesterday, I was SO ANGRY. How could this happen? Why is this happening to us? Doesn't God know it's hard enough already?

Ha. Okay. Of course a sermon would be on the radio about finances right after all this happens.

Immediately God said "Stephanie, will you still remember? Will you still trust Me? Are you going to choose to bless Me?"

And I kind of sat there and just laughed. Yes, I laughed. This test of faith came quick, didn't it?!

In all honesty, I'd love for our situation to be different financially. But for some reason, God is allowing things to be this way for now. He doesn't want us to be so comfortable that we stop depending on Him. And I hope, and I pray, that if God chooses to bless us financially and take these burdens, that I would never be so comfortable that I don't depend on Him to be my source.

"Count in all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." -James 1:2-4

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bless the Lord O my Soul

"Bless the Lord, O my soul
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."
-From Psalm 103

The beginning of this section of scripture is what really grabbed me.
I've been so frustrated, so angry about aspects of our situation, feeling like God doesn't really care.
all lies, I know, but real feelings nonetheless

I've forgotten all of God's benefits, His goodness.
And in the midst of my emotional tirade against God, He so patiently, graciously, and lovingly spoke to my heart, and said remember.

I am saved from the gates of hell, my life has been redeemed from the pit of hell! I will spend eternity in the presence of this awesome God. These facts completely overshadow our momentary, light affliction. Despite our circumstances here on this earth, He is still God, and that alone is enough for my soul to bless the Lord.

Today I choose to remember His benefits.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

32 Weeks, 8 Left



Growing, growing, growing. I can't believe there is only 8 weeks left! That's like, hardly any time at all!

My good friend Brittney Bumbalough (visit her new blog here) came over with baby Joseph last weekend. Such a beautiful and precious little boy, he really makes my heart melt. I'm so glad such a close friend had a baby a little before us, because it's made me realize that I really, actually, am quite excited to be a mom. These months of being pregnant I've had to surrender and let God change many mindsets I've grown up with, and mold my heart into one that views being a mother the way He views it. I'm excited for this, still nervous, naturally, but excited to hold this little boy in my arms. To touch his tiny feet, to grasp his tiny fingers, to kiss his little cheeks.

In the meantime, however, Rob and I plan to enjoy and soak up these last 8 weeks of just us. We're gonna do things like go bowling at 10 pm, go to the gym together often, whenever we want, go to museums, go anywhere really and not have to worry about another person, or diapers, or is the baby fed and had a nap. Just us.

But then, I can't wait to sleep on my stomach again. And run. And get off the couch without an ounce of effort. Or put my shoes on easily. Or drink a margarita.

Circa December 2010. Mmm yummy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Things at Home - in Pictures


Above is the HUUUUGE box the crib came in.

Below, some of the pieces of the crib

More pieces for the crib

So many pieces! Glad my husband is a handyman!

The finished product!

This is the washer we got. Perfect condition, no dents, looks new.

And the dryer. The set was only $200. Thank you Jesus (and Craigslist)!

Got some curtains for the living room - SO much better in the daytime heat now. And we got that nifty little lamp in the corner for $7 :-)

Had to thrown one in there of me and my little companion :-)

Uhhhhh....is that okay to include this picture? Guess it is now. Silly dog.
And there you have it folks. The life of newlyweds living on love, gifts from parents, and cheap finds on Craigslist.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

PUPPS Be-Gone

3 weeks of endless itching
+
1 bar of Grandpa's Pine Tar Soap
+
3 cold showers a day, using said soap
+
2 bottles of hydrocortisone cream
+
1 bottle of calamine lotion
+
1 bottle of dandelion root pills, 3 pills, 2x a day
+
2 jugs of V8 juice
+
endless numbers of ice cubes used to numb my skin

=

Rash is ALMOST gone!!!

Still dealing with it in small places, but for the most part I'm not being tortured by constant itching as of, well, last night. God is healing this rash! Praise God that He is bigger than any news the doctors can give me!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Letters to Josiah

Dear Josiah,

It's really hard to believe you're going to be here, in this world, in our lives, in about 2 months. It makes me wonder where in the world time has gone, and it kind of overwhelms me! Many days I don't feel ready for you. But I simply can't imagine how wonderfully life changing it will be when you arrive. At this point all we have for you is a couple of onesies, a few outfits, and a crib, but no mattress. No diapers, no toys, none of the important stuff. Yet. They'll come, I know they will.

Josiah, I want you to know this: you may not get to have a bunch of things growing up, especially while you are young. God has taken momma and daddy's plans & turned them all inside out, so we don't really know what we're doing with our lives or have much money yet. BUT - just because you won't have all the coolest toys or nicest clothes, you will ALWAYS have something that many children will never know - the unconditional love of a mom and dad who will always be together and be here for you. I promise to give you that, and I know that one day, you will appreciate that more than anything money could buy.

I love you Josiah. I don't even know you yet, but I love you. I believe God really knows what He's doing in choosing YOU to give to us.

Love,
Momma

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Tastes that Bring Back Memories

Currently I'm sitting in Starbucks, trying to get internet (think I'm having computer issues?!), and drinking a vanilla chai latte. (Notice I'm only wearing my wedding band? Yeah, the engagement ring doesn't fit right now. Kind of glad I never had the time to get this ring resized, or get the rings fused.)

The taste of sweet memories <3

I remember sitting in the hotel room of the Holiday Inn in Norman getting ready with my bridesmaids, and our photographer showed up with a vanilla chai latte just for me. And now, that taste brings me back to our wedding day - every single time.

I love these people so much. These girls are my best friends. They are wives, they are mothers, they are daughters, and they are answers to deep desires and prayers for good friendships. And the guys are pretty great too ;-)

I love this man more and more each day. It's only been 9 months, but our love has grown so much. God is so, so, so perfect that he would bring this man into my life. To think back two summers ago when I completely rejected him and had no desire to date him - ahhh thank you God that he didn't give up on me!!

Here's to sweet memories, weddings, and vanilla chai lattes :-)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Faith Isn't Easy

It's not easy to day after day trust God that He will provide when the bank account and logic continually says otherwise. It's not easy to trust God day after day when you don't know what the future holds, when you don't know if your husband's immigration will be approved, when you don't know if he'll ever be able to get a job here, when you don't know when you'll get paid, when you don't know what life will be like under these circumstances and adding a baby to the mix, when you don't know how you'll insure said baby.

Faith is simply not easy.

What is easy is letting these things weigh me down, to crumble emotionally, to distance myself from God. But I need faith. I often ask God for peace, but I think faith comes first. (And faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God...so distancing myself from God obviously isn't going to help!)

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you." -Isaiah 43:2

We are in a fire right now that we are choosing to walk through together, trusting God rather than looking for an easy way out. But God promises that we will not be burned nor scorched, that he is with us.

*Financial doubt & uncertainty is a flame
*Uncertainty about immigration is a flame
*Having a baby, the unknown that awaits, is a flame

We will NOT be burned, not scorched, not touched by these flames. There is a refreshing rain on the other side. There will be a road in this wilderness and a river will be found in this desert. (Isaiah 43:19).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

At A Loss For Words

I've tried several times to post what's really on my heart, but can't seem to eloquently get the words out. It's such a rough/dry/weird/unexpected place in life right now, and I wanna talk about all of it. But for now, here's a picture of my amazing husband posing before the start of the Dallas Hottest Half Marathon on Sunday. So proud of my Canadian husband surviving such a dreadfully hot race!